I started my PhD in October and I’ve just completed project approval, so it’s time to crack on with actually writing something! I finished my contract with Junction Arts in December after the Bolsover Lantern Parade (after 5 happy years) so that I can focus on my research. My PhD is practice-led, with the title: Contemporary Poetry, Sea-level Rise and Coastal Flooding. More info here: https://vpp.midlands3cities.ac.uk/display/N0165498ntuacuk/Welcome
Here’s a bit of an overview:
The British geographic and political sense of identity as an island nation – where no place is more than 75 miles from the coast – is inevitably characterised by its relationship with the sea. The shape of the British Isles is ‘sheered into our memories from an early age, a mental cartographic construct of Englishness’ (Dodge, 2012), but limits and definitions of the British coastline are subject to change. My practice-led project comprises a collection of poetry exploring sea-level rise and coastal flooding in Britain and a critical consideration of contemporary Anglophone coastal change poems. I use “coastal change” as an umbrella term for phenomena associated with climate change in the Anthropocene, including sea-level rise, erosion and coastal flooding due to extreme weather events. My poems will explore issues that are largely neglected by the existing body of coastal change poetry, including social and ethical concerns of organizational response such as managed realignment and effects of sea-level rise on heritage sites. Each poem will connect with an artifact as a locative technique and material point of inspiration and reference, exploring the social and cultural impact of ‘loss of place’.
There is a paucity of critical work focusing solely on the poetry and poetics of contemporary British coastal change. For Johns-Putra (2016) ”significant developments have occurred’ in poetry, yet ‘eco-critical accounts of climate change have tended to focus on fiction to the detriment of drama and poetry’. Given the increasing body of contemporary British poetry engaging with the topic, a focused examination of the developing poetics of coastal change is overdue.
Supervisors and Institution(s):
Dr Rory Waterman (Nottingham Trent University)
Dr Sarah Jackson (Nottingham Trent University)
Dr Henry Chapman (University of Birmingham)
During my residency I’ve been exploring the layers of history and stories at Mottisfont, joining guided tours of the grounds, walking with River Keeper Neil Swift along the fishing beats of the River Test and looking at the importance of water to Mottisfont for more than 1000 years. I’ve also been having conversations with visitors to The Observatory, discussing connections between place and memory and collecting words and stories for a collaborative poem about the site.
On Saturday 13th August at 3pm I’ll be sharing some of my writing from my time at Mottisfont and Mark and Phil from SPUD will be giving a talk about The Observatory project. Do join us if you can, we’ll be up at The Observatory in the Beech Circle from 2pm if you’d just like to have a chat and find out a bit more about the project and what we’ve been doing.
During July and August 2016 I will be Poet-in-Residence at Mottisfont (a National Trust property near Romsey, Hampshire) as part of The Observatory. I’ll be researching and creating new work responding to the flow of water through and around the estate including the ‘Font’ spring, the Abbey Stream and the River Test. The Residency will include public talks and ‘Book Making and Poetry’ workshops. Visitors to the Observatory will be invited to contribute to the group poem.
The Observatory consists of two structures, an artist’s studio (The Study) and a public shelter (The Workshop). Using a unique rotating system, the resident artists are able to orientate The Observatory to take maximum advantage of daylight and vistas, or to create shelter from the prevailing weather.
Residency Dates at Mottisfont
Saturday 9th-Monday 18th July 2016
Monday 1st-Sunday 14th August 2016
I’ve been fortunate enough to be awarded a 3 year full-time research studentship as part of the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. I’ll be starting in October 2016. Really excited about it and looking forward to working with my supervisors Dr Rory Waterman, Dr Sarah Jackson (both at Nottingham Trent) and Dr Henry Chapman (University of Birmingham). It will be a practice-led PhD and the topic is ‘Contemporary Poetry, Sea-level Rise and Coastal Flooding’. http://www.midlands3cities.ac.uk/midlands-3-cities/index.aspx
I joined Kim Slater, Jonathan Taylor and Sheelagh Gallagher to discuss the Costa Book Awards 2015 on Thursday 21st January (7.30pm) at West Bridgford Library. The Costa Book Awards are split into five categories: novel, first novel, biography, poetry and children’s book. This meant reading five books in a week, quite a challenge! We discussed the category winning books in the running for the overall award, plus awards and writing in general, and also shared some of our own writing with the audience. The Lie Tree (which was, indeed, the overall winner) and A God in Ruins seemed to be the favourites to win, although if I had to choose, I’d go for The Invention of Nature for the sheer brilliance of both subject and author!
Artist: Ewan Allinson. ‘Top Of the World’ 2015 Poulter Country Park Photo: Aly Stoneman
The Limestone Journeys partnership is coming to an end after five years. I’ve been delivering the creative engagement for Junction Arts since 2011, through participatory arts activities in the scheme area (mainly Bolsover District). There were 20 separate projects (part of our Rural Programme) funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, many running over multiple years, including film, literature, performance and heritage crafts. The final project to complete is a new sculpture trail in Poulter Country Park, a re-greened ex-colliery tip in Derbyshire, which launched on Tuesday 24th November. ‘Top Of The World’ completes the first stage in the development of this trail and connects with the Archaeological Way and Art Along The Way.
Art Along The Way 2015
We worked with Ewan Allinson, a master craftsman stone waller, Derbyshire County Council, and the local community including Primary schools and the Langwith Whaley Thorns heritage centre. Other artists involved earlier in the year included David Mayne and poet Liz Cashdan. Despite the wet weather, we had a turnout of around 1oo people for the launch, who gamely splashed along the muddy trail to see the finished result. Some were participants in the Limestone Journeys conference at Creswell Crags earlier that day, where I represented Junction Arts in talking about our involvement in the Landscape Partnership and the process of engaging people with the landscape through creative practice.
‘Bridging The Gap’ 2015 Artist: David Mayne; Poet: Liz Cashdan. Photo: Aly Stoneman